Sharing points about vaccinations
Vaccinations has become a hot topic, especially with the new outbreak of measles throughout our country. The idea of allowing a virus to be injected into your body to allow the body to learn how to protect itself works. The previous eradication of the disease and others proves it. But how safe is the process of providing mass supplies to all Americans? Are there cultural issues that may need to be considered? The following viewpoints are meant to provide you with information and firsthand experiences on vaccines.
Viewpoint I: The decision is yours to make, but educate yourself first
Some of us follow our doctor’s advice and automatically get our children fully vaccinated. Some of us follow a spread-out timeline, while others of us choose no vaccinations.
When pregnant with my firstborn, I read all things related to parenting. Topics included childbirth, infant potty training, breastfeeding, homemade baby foods, circumcision, and vaccines. The latter two I began to realize were the most controversial and least openly discussed. Efficacy of vaccines, duration of immunity after vaccination, ingredients of vaccines, duration of sickness if disease is contracted, treatments for disease, and adverse reactions to vaccines were areas I decided to learn more about.
By the numbers
If the American Academy of Pediatrics’ required vaccine schedule is followed, a child receives 39-44 vaccination shots by the time he or she turns 18 years old, although as many as 69 doses of 16 vaccines are recommended. Vaccines are not entirely effective (85% to 90%) at preventing disease, and most last 10-15 years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the estimate of 2018-19 effectiveness against all influenza (flu) virus infection associated with medically attended acute respiratory infection was 47% (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/68/wr/mm6806a2.htm).
In his book titled, “The Vaccine Book,” Dr. Robert Sears calculated from the reported adverse reactions from vaccines, the risk of a serious vaccine reaction is:
1 in 100,000 chance for each separate vaccine
1 in 35,000 chance for each round (more than 1 vaccine) of vaccines
1 in 2,600 chance for the entire 12-year vaccine schedule
Adverse reactions ranged from a sore shoulder to anaphylactic shock to death. On the flip side, a child has a 1 in 600 chance of suffering a severe case of a vaccine-preventable illness over the first 12 years of life. Statistics may show I am taking a larger risk by not vaccinating my children, but I think the number of adverse vaccine reactions, especially in the long-term regarding autoimmune diseases, is under reported.
The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) was created almost 40 years ago to analyze and track reports of possible side effects from vaccinations. This national database is co-managed by the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and is publicly accessible at wonder.cdc.gov. I did a quick search from January 2016-January 2019 for all the United States and scanned through 210 total reported events. Another quick search for the last 10 years in Texas only and for ages younger than 17 years old produced a report of six total events, all deaths. Case notes are often provided with entries. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a system for resolving vaccine injury petitions and is managed by the Health Resources and Services Administration (www.hrsa.gov/vaccine-compensation/index.html).
What is in a shot?
I am concerned with human error and assumptions (due to lack of studies) with ingredients in vaccines. Ingredients in vaccines include aluminum, cow serum (the liquid part of a cow’s blood), formaldehyde, gelatin (animal collagen extracted from bones and connective tissue), human albumin (proteins from blood), chick embryo proteins, polysorbate 80 (surfactant), 2-phenoxyethanol, and monosodium glutamate (MSG) (https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/B/excipient-table-2.pdf). Tissue from aborted human fetuses have also been used, particularly for live-virus vaccines, as well as cow fetuses and blood from other primates (e.g., monkeys).
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. and maintains the website, www.ewg.org/skindeep/, with information on some of these ingredients, with data sources referenced.
Aluminum is a light metal used as an adjuvant in many vaccines, meaning it boosts the body’s immune response to the vaccine. Some literature describes it as a toxin and/or neurotoxin. Yes, aluminum is omnipresent in today’s world (food, water, air, and soil), but there is a difference between ingested and injected aluminum. No FDA documents show that aluminum in vaccines has been tested and found to be safe.
Other items of note about aluminum:
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require aluminum warning labels on vaccines although it does for all other injectable medications
The FDA recommends no more than 25 micrograms of aluminum per liter of IV nutritional solutions for patients
The American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition recommends a limit of 5 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day for patients with kidney problems and premature babies, beyond which would risk aluminum toxicity
Depending on the brand type of vaccines, the total aluminum dose given at a 2-month old baby’s visit for vaccines can result in 1,875 micrograms of aluminum injected in one day, and this is repeated at four and six months. (Each vaccine can be looked up on the CDC website for ingredients and amounts of each.)
Aluminum toxicity is difficult to detect, especially through visible symptoms only.
Aluminum can build up to toxic levels in the bloodstream, bones, and brain when injected.
Aluminum exposure has been shown to elevate levels of cytokines IL-6 and IL-17 in the brain.
What diseases have led to vaccinations?
Some diseases vaccinated against are more common and/or deadlier than others. Chicken pox, for the vast majority of people, is not a harmful disease. Many people my age and older had chickenpox and most gained lifelong immunity from having it. My parents’ generation contracted measles, and many had mumps. Today, the chickenpox vaccine and the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccines are administered to prevent the corresponding illnesses.
You may have heard or read about the recent measles outbreaks. Measles is a virus that causes fever, rash, runny nose, and cough. In most cases, especially children, it lasts a week without any complications. Infection usually creates lifelong immunity. However, on extremely rare occasions, measles can infect various internal organs. Bad things could happen if you contract measles, but sometimes things could also go really wrong should an individual react to the MMR vaccine.
The product insert for the MMR vaccine highlights two particular reactions to the vaccine: chronic arthritis and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). No precise accounting of the statistical chance of these reactions has been determined for sure. In a recent paper by the Danish researchers Dr. Hviid and others in 2019, titled, “Measles, Mumps, Rubella Vaccination and Autism: A Nationwide Cohort Study,” which some has said strongly supports MMR vaccinations do not increase the risk for autism. The study was funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation and research completed by Danish vaccine maker Statens Serum Institut.
Withstanding the obvious conflict of interest, I would like to see studies in the future on American children with the American immunization schedule. I’m curious as to whether or not there would be a significant difference, are you?
Consider this: In Dr. Thomas Cowan’s book, “Vaccines, Autoimmunity, and the Changing Nature of Childhood Illness,” he references five peer-reviewed scientific publications and summarizes, “Children who successfully go through measles at the usual ages have less heart disease, arthritis, allergies, autoimmune diseases, and overall better health than those who never get measles. The measles program has turned us, immunologically speaking, into Native Americans before they encountered Europeans, with the very old and the very young highly susceptible to devastating infection.”
CDC’s webpage states, “Hepatitis B is transmitted when blood, semen, or another body fluid from a person infected with the hepatitis B virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. This can happen through sexual contact; sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment; or from mother to baby at birth” (https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hbv/index.htm).
With this information, I realized my newborn son was not going to contract Hepatitis B because I didn’t have the virus, and my baby wouldn’t be sharing needles or having sex with others. I decided the Hepatitis B vaccine could wait until at least my son came out on the other end of puberty. Ditto for the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine. Diphtheria is virtually nonexistent in the United States, though it continues to be reported more in underdeveloped countries. If contracted, diphtheria’s rod-shaped gram-positive bacteria can be treated with antibiotics or the diphtheria antitoxin. There is also a tetanus antibody injection (in case my kids incurred a cut from rusty metal that was too deep for me to adequately clean) and a chickenpox antiviral medication. Pertussis (whooping cough) was concerning because the disease can be lengthy (about 30 days) and can be deadly for non-vaccinated infants. After the age of 6 months, pertussis no longer is life threatening. Same with Rotavirus and Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib)
As my kids mature into young adults or if we/they decide to extensively travel abroad, I am open to revisiting this issue. I actively keep a list of vaccines, such as mumps and rubella, for which I will consider for them when they are young teens. In very rare cases, mumps can render adults sterile. Although not a deadly disease, rubella can cause stillbirth and birth defects, but has been effectively eliminated from the U.S. population due to vaccines.
My first step would be to request titers (blood tests) to see if they happened to be exposed earlier during their childhood, which would render them immune from the disease. Shingles scare the heck out of me. We have almost always lived on an island near a large port city with immigrants coming in from around the world and as such, I listen and watch the pulse and news on our island for disease outbreaks. I focus on keeping my family healthy through good diet, exercise, time spent outside, avoidance of pesticides, and adequate sleep. By helping them build healthy immune systems, their little bodies will be able to orchestrate successful cell-mediated responses when confronted with viruses.
Viewpoint II: Why it’s more urgent than ever to vaccinate
Sometimes science works in funny ways. Whoever thought that in order to prevent a terrible virus, you would want to inject yourself with that very virus? Counterintuitive to say the least, but that’s exactly how vaccines work. Generations ago, brave parents allowed themselves and their kids to be injected with the diseases they feared and had seen people die from, and voila. In just a few generations, some of the most awful illnesses (polio, mumps and measles) have been almost completely eliminated.
However, in 2017, the CDC released a report showing Houstonians have the lowest rate of children vaccinated against measles in major U.S. cities. With just 87.8% of our children vaccinated, coastal kids are falling below the rate of herd immunity, the percentage of the population that needs to stay immunized for vaccines to be effective. It’s recommended to keep immunizations at 90% to 95% to maintain this herd immunity and prevent a major outbreak of an otherwise preventable disease.
But if vaccines are important for our health, why are fewer parents immunizing these days? Perhaps vaccines have been too effective for their own good. Odds are, you cannot bring to mind the image of someone suffering from smallpox or measles. To a concerned parent trying to do the best for their kids, the perceived risk of autism, which can be clearly visualized, is read by the brain as more threatening than measles, which we haven’t seen much of since vaccines started kicking the virus’ butt.
More than a dozen peer-reviewed studies have shown that there is definitively no link between vacci